Angels on the Highway

When I think about the way the story could have played out my breath gets caught on the intake. I have to close my eyes and push the stuck air into my lungs and pull it back out.

Imagine a girl walking on a lonely highway, stumbling in the ditch when vehicles speed by. She’s in the ditch because there is no shoulder on the road. She discovered that like a punch in the face as soon as she started the walk. She’s also in the ditch because she realized she doesn’t want to be seen. The stretch of asphalt is just wide enough for two cars to pass. It’s a dark night in the middle of winter or a dark night of the soul depending on your vantage point. The wind is whipping calling with a low howl. The air smells dirty, snow and ice mixed with diesel fuel, from the semis that sporadically roll by.

She’s wearing Doc Martens, Levi’s, crop top under a flannel jacket. Her long black hair is at the mercy of the wind hiding most of her face. If she were being honest, she’d say she’s really dressed in different shades of fear, anger, frustration, resentment. That’s the uniform she’s worn most of her life. She’s fueled by booze tonight and most nights. The booze is what made her think the walk home was possible. A marathon by mileage. When she’s not gauging it by miles it’s much longer and she’s aware of what she’s gotten herself into.

An SUV passes. She catches a glimpse long enough to register it’s a Ford Explorer. She stumbles down the steep ditch waiting to find flat footing while walking at a precarious angle. Nothing flat. This is the kind of angle that twists ankles. She sees brake lights up ahead. The SUV slows and turns around. It returns to the place where they first spotted her. She’s blinded by headlights. The vehicle stops. Not the best road to around on or to make a complete stop to pick someone up but I guess they were motivated.

I always take a minute to let the possible scenarios play out in my mind. What does this story look like on the 5 o’clock news? There was opportunity for me to disappear. There was opportunity for me to be pulled into a car with someone who’s intentions weren’t so nice. The truth is, on that night there were two angels on the highway. In that Ford Explorer. The car that came back for me. It feels like a lifetime ago and for some people it would be. 25 years. The passenger leaned over into the darkness of the ditch where I stood. The interior light illuminated a face that glowed while having no recognizable features. Or maybe the view was blurred by the liquid that coursed through the veins of my lost soul.

The question came, “Are you ok? Do you need help?” “No. Yes”, wrenched out through sobs. This was my pattern. No…Yes…No…rinse…soak in more booze…repeat, and many more tears before I would accept real help. This was not the beginning or the end of being swept away into the flow of this life, this river I had created…drowning…surfacing…swimming…drowning. A river that raged and dragged me down holding me under until my lungs felt ready to explode or I literally exploded. Then I’d go limp, lose consciousness to sink, float, and surface again. There were deep stagnate pools in this river filled with memories that pulled me into the lurking rank stillness. Slowly sucking the life from me. I did my best to stay out of these places, but they’d move so slow with no current to carry a person forward or backward. Simply an endless, swirling, mind numbing drift.

That night, at that moment, I reached for the lifeline, of the handle to the back door of a Ford Explorer, and got in. The driver was silent. The passenger spoke, “Is there somewhere safe we can take you?” she whispered.

Even when my plan sucked, I always had a plan and I had already thought this one out. At first, I thought I’d walk all the way to his house. Then I decided I’d call him to come get me when I got closer. “The first gas station with a pay phone when we reach town.” I replied. I made a call from a pay phone that night. I laugh about it today. That confirms that this was a lifetime ago. I was walking home on a cold winter night in the middle of almost nowhere with no cell phone, no way for anyone to know where I was. I had lied to the friends I was with at the bar we had driven to after our party at home grew boring.

We were miles from home. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to go home. They wanted to stay. When I decided I wanted to leave and they asked “How are you going to get home?”, I told them I was calling him to pick me up. Another lie. I knew what I was up to as I threw myself an internal pity party. Things hadn’t gone well with us earlier in the night and things hadn’t been going well for a while mostly due to my behavior. I mean he was human and had participated in our dance in his own way, adding fuel to the fire but these days I can only focus on my side of the street. Where was I wrong? What were my mistakes?

I pretended like I made a call and then acted all perky about how he would be picking me up soon. In my mind I toyed with the idea that he was done with me. Finally, done with me. I burned with shame to think of the hell I regularly put him through and the hell I now found myself in. I kept asking myself, “Why wasn’t he ever done with me? Would tonight be the night?”

There was a quiet conversation going on in the front seats as I sulked in the back. I learned they were brother and sister, these two angels. Going where? Doing what? They never said. She talked to me. Small talk. Nothing memorable. He drove. The Lion King soundtrack played, and Elton John’s voice carried a harmony of hope. “Can you feel the love?” Over and over. “No not really, Elton. Not right now.”

We reached the gas station. I got out. “Will you be ok?” one last question from the woman that rode shotgun, her kindness penetrated my eyes, burned through me. I smiled with a shrug of the shoulders, “Sure.”, in my people pleasing voice tainted with phoniness that probably stunk like the booze oozing out of my pores. I turned to the pay phone and made the call. The angels drove away. Thank God. The divine intervention was wearing on me. It would wear on me for years. And then one day I would understand it had always been there, caring for me, protecting me and I would fully accept it.

I closed my eyes and pictured safety on the other line. There to pick up. Always there to pick up and pick me up. Hold me. Love me. Wipe the tears. I already felt his presence. He’d wrap me in a big bear hug, cocooning my tiny body with his massive muscular build. His beard rough and familiar like a favorite blanket against my face. Shame and sobs wracked my body as he answered and knew it was me. He didn’t say it, but I heard it in his tone, concern frosted with seriously, WTF. “Where are you?” “At the gas station on 19th. Please, come get me.” “I’ll be there soon.”

I sat on the curb looking at the cigarette butts in the parking lot, the random oil stains patching a pattern together. I smelled gasoline and wished for a cherry slushy spiked with rum. The truck pulled up. Boots and legs like tree trunks emerged. I lifted myself to my feet. Stood at the curb swaying. He towered over me. This was the feature that first drew me to him. The height. The solidness. The tangible strength and confidence.

In the parking lot on that winter night, I looked up and up and up until I met his eyes. Twinkling, golden brown sugary eyes. A smile mixed with sadness and relief that I stood in front of him. A brow furrowed with emotion that I could never quite read.

Like other people in my life who drifted with me during the darkness, this one would come and never really go. They’ve all haunted me over the years. In dreams. In memories. In the times I drank to drown it all out. In the moments I’ve felt I didn’t deserve love. Those are few and far between these days. I was lucky to get the good people. The ones who even while they were being dragged into my self-imposed prison managed to help me stay out of the solitary confinement where my demons lived, the ones that managed to stay on the fringe and keep me safe and alive in the moments I wanted to die. The ones who stuck with me through all the years of drinking, hitting my bottom and finally learning how to navigate the river that I had created. Now I can hit the rapids, use the eddies, and enjoy what’s reflected in those still pools.

He stepped toward me, and it’s exactly as I imagined. I’m safe, embraced, loved, the tears are wiped away. I feel I don’t deserve it, any of it, but tonight I’ll take it. I get in the truck and know I’m going home to a release of everything I’m holding. Then deep sleep wrapped in arms with the strength of oak roots anchoring me to a place I feel like I’ll never belong. Just like I didn’t belong on that highway when two angels came along and carried me away.



Allium come in many varieties. Micro to macro, shades of pink to purple, dense to wispy. Giant allium variety pictured.

This weekend I finally dug the allium bulbs I planted a few years ago. Back then I started with 3 bulbs in each hole. And as bulbs tend to do, they multiplied. It was getting crowded in there! It felt like a fragrant treasure hunt with squeals of “oh there’s another one”, and a waft of dull garlic hit me when bulb after bulb emerged as my shovel plunged deeper. Beyond being striking purple puffballs on tubular stems with strappy plastic belt like foliage these babies produce more babies. Which means at some point it’s time to dig and divide, replant and/or give to friends. I opted for all of the above.

Close up of the bulb. This fleshy orb will turn into so much more! It’s best to keep bulbs that didn’t sustain any damage while digging.

I find allium an easy grow. To plant allium select a full sun to part-shade location. Dig a hole 6-8″ deep, and about 12″ in diameter if you plan to put multiple bulbs in. This will give them 4-6″ spacing. Or 6-8″ deep and 6″ diameter for a single bulb works too. Nestle bulbs with the flat edge at the bottom of the hole (see photo above- near thumb is the flat edge). The curly q pointy top will look up toward the sky until you cover it with the soil you removed while digging, and tuck it back in for fall and winter rest. I like to mix a few handfuls of compost in with soil as I fill in to enrich. It also makes me feel like I’m a real gardener, giving life a head start. I don’t add any plant food at this time. We’ll get to that in the spring when active growth starts. Once the hole is filled back in, dress with mulch. Then water to soak thoroughly. I pour 1-3 gallons on depending on how dry the soil was to start. My soil is typical Fort Collins, Colorado. Dense, sticky clay when wet. Chunky bordering on concrete when dry. That’s a slight exaggeration. I have amended and mulched over the years which helps. We generally get enough moisture through the dormant season but if it’s an unseasonably dry winter give the area a soak once or twice. Allium bulbs are considered a fall bulb. Planted in the fall for spring bloom. Like so much of gardening allium are an exercise in patience and faith. It is a joy filled moment to see the foliage emerging from the ground. I call it the green stretch.

The green stretch happening! Blooms look like turrets on towers as they mature. Very regal!
The flower ball is made up of individual star shaped blossoms. Superstar in the garden!
Late season dried allium flowers in lower left corner. Even when fading they offer seasonal interest.

Fall is my favorite for wrapping up my garden to do list especially when I can check off tasks I’ve neglected for a few seasons. Dig alliums- check! This time of year helps me remember preparing for a season of rest properly prepares for rejuvenation in the season to come.

Wrap up on allium planting and care:

Easy to grow in full sun to part shade, dry to average well-drained soil (or at least as well drained as it can be in some dense clay areas around here!)

Plant 6-8″ deep depending on how large bulbs are. Place in hole with 4-6″ spacing between bulbs or one bulb per hole.

Add a few handfuls of compost when filling hole back in. No plant food at this time.

Water thoroughly and mulch.

Enjoy! Benefits of growing alliums:

Attract butterflies, bee friendly, deer and rabbit resistant, fragrant, good cut and dried flower.


Retire, retired, retirement….When I read the definition of retire the word that catches me is withdraw. That word gives me an aha moment. Withdraw- to take back, to retreat. To take what back? To retreat from what? At this time and place I am taking back my sense of Being. Retiring from the incessant pressure to do in a world desperate for certainty and control. As I made this transition and shared it with people the question asked most often was, ‘What are you going to DO?” What’s next?” The answer I felt drawn to give was “Just BE. I’m just going to be. Wake and see where the day takes me.” Granted I have this opportunity because I’ve put in some time doing. Doing what is expected to get here. The real answer of what is next is to enjoy the Sabbath God provides, and know next will come along whether I’m ready or not. Other reactions to this transition have made me smile and reflect. One friend said, “You’re pretty young to be retired.” True. Another said, “Oh yeah, I know someone who retired early and was bored stiff within 2 months.” Sad. Retire doesn’t mean done living, or serving, or learning, or growing. At the end of the definition there is a brief line about winning permanent possession of (as a trophy). That is how I feel at this moment in time. I’ve won permanent possession of my God-given life, and as I retreat we’ll see what wonderful wilderness I end up in.

Comparison, the thief of joy or…

an opportunity to learn & grow?

I hear this a lot. Comparison is the thief of joy. Disagree! In my experience comparison becomes the thief of joy when it is rooted in pride. Pride pushes me to ask, Am I better or worse than you? Is my situation better or worse than yours? How much better or worse? Pride is the real thief of joy.

Comparison is simply an opportunity to learn & grow. Comparison can be grounded in appreciation not pride. Appreciation for differences & most certainly similarities, not better or worse qualifications.

Comparison allows me to know that I am me & you are you & that is ok. We are the same & different just as God made us.

It is natural to compare. It is a God given ability & a gift when used appropriately. Embrace opportunities to compare in a meaningful way, from a position of appreciation & the thief of joy holds no power.


Garden: a rich, well-cultivated region, a fertile or delightful spot. Garden: to tend a region cultivating richness, to care for a spot enhancing fertility and delightfulness. My garden is a place and what I do in that place. Location and activity wrapped into one. A sanctuary that requires sanctifying. My hands and heart working with what God gives. Earth, water, sunshine, air. Wisdom, seeds, life. Bringing beauty to behold and reminders that for all things there is a season.

My Blessed Buddy


My Grandmother’s name is Jeanette but we call her Buddy. Everyone calls her Buddy. They have called her Buddy for most of her life. When I examine this wonderful woman’s life, I see a vessel spilling over with joy. My memories of her are warm smiles, bubbly laugh, hugs and a work ethic that amazes me even now that she is in her 80s. She still volunteers at the hospital and cares for all the people in her life when she can.


My Grandmother and I are wrapped in a bond that I cannot quite describe. When I experience a traumatic event I rely on her Faith. Although she is not physically with me, I draw her strength into my being and know I can handle anything. This bond makes me understand more each day that the spirit and spunk that is part of me was passed from my Grandmother to my Mom and then to me.

Me, Mom, Grandma

My Grandmother is generous, loving and kind. She is also a woman who is opinionated and direct. I think she might have the ability to grant eternal forgiveness or curse those who do not adhere to the tenants that the God I was raised with demands of us. My Grandmother taught me truth when it comes to religion and a spiritual life. We must follow and set the example in lieu of worshipping and putting on pomp and circumstance. I love that she is a devout Catholic in a true sense of who Jesus would want all of us to be. I love that her devotion has touched my life helping unite me and a God that I understand in my daily life. As my Grandmother, my Blessed Buddy, reminds me, This Too Shall Pass. Time is a gift that God bestows upon us, an infinite endless eternal moment and a life that happens in the blink of an eye. If there is one lesson I carry with me from my Grandmother it is this-


Celebrate life wherever you find yourself with whoever is with you, and know that we are infinitely loved even when God throws us a curve ball. My Grandmother has definitely experienced plenty of those and walked through them with grace. Her laugh rings in my ears and my heart. I thank God for her every day and the love that we share. My life is truly blessed because of Buddy.

Road Trip- Carlsbad Caverns


Carlsbad Caverns is one of my sacred places. On my first visit it felt familiar to me. On my second visit it was like coming home. I love the descent into the cavern. I love the rich, dank air. I love the space that surrounds me as I walk down into the depths of a womb in the earth.


I am taken by the intricate detail found inside.

Popcorn ceilings


Bacon strips clinging to the wall

IMG_0369 (2)

Draperies fit for a castle


A single delicate bell cord dangling from the ceiling

The bell cord is just barely visible in the middle of the picture. A single strand hanging from the ceiling.

The bell cord is just barely visible in the middle of the picture. A single strand hanging from the ceiling.

Pull it and who knows who you will summon.

Lion’s tail



Whale’s mouth

I love the history. A lone man in the desert seeing the bats in the distance and following them. Reaching a spot where he felt a rush of air coming from an opening in the land. Hanging down into the hole and reaching the end of his rope. Dropping into a black abyss and discovering a wonderland that his eyes could not behold. I could spend hours, days, months, years or moments in this space and feel right at home. Sitting, staring, listening.


It is hard to grasp the scale. Features look gigantic and minute at the same time. A moment of complete darkness might last an eternity. Take the King’s Palace tour and experience this moment of pitch black that makes you ask, What if? What if I were trapped here with no light? Sooner or later one guest on the tour gets quite uncomfortable and asks for the lights to be turned back on.


The first day that Mike and I spent in the cave, we acted like tourists with the hand held talky wand. We barely spoke and when we did it was in hushed whispers. Silence fills the immense space and this place is timeless.


Air flows steady, temperature regulates, everything about this cavern is calm, serene, peace. The only noise is drip, drip, drip. Maybe the sound of shuffling feet and an occasional gasp, squeal or whisper from a visitor captivated by the life that still resides in this womb.

Road Trip- Tecopa Hotsprings

After a surreal day in Death Valley, we are ready to rest. Pulling into the campground at Tecopa Hotsprings I am reminded of an old, abandoned drive-in theatre. RV Hookups look like the speakers for listening to the movie on the big screen. Bathroom buildings resemble concession stands. It is dusk and only the outlines of the area are visible.

tbig trip 219

We secure a spot to set up our tent. No sleeping in the back of the truck tonight. We crave relaxation and healing water of hot springs. The hot springs are sacred. No clothes allowed. Separate pools for ladies and gentlemen. The mineral soak is welcome. A hot shower feels divine after days on the road.

big trip 204

The wind sneaks in and whips the tent. A restless sleep, but I feel fresh in the morning. We wake to a rocky hill with a cross on top and decide to hike. It is called Mary’s Hill. A place for prayer and reflection.

big trip 217 big trip 215

The moments we cherish on this journey are simple, yet profound. Standing on a mound of rocks in the middle of the desert taking in the rugged reality that life offers. Trying to get a little dog to cooperate for a timed photo. Immortalizing our commitment to spending 4 months on the road, and taking in this land that will leave the landscape of our relationship richer.


Road Trip- Death Valley

Driving from Mt Whitney to Death Valley, the road descends onto a godforsaken landscape. It is flat, barren- carrying a false sense that it is devoid of life. If a visitor is willing to continue past this point, the desolation eventually bursts into one of the most mesmerizing places on earth. We were willing.
big trip 141
I never dreamt I would fall prey to the rapture of the desert. I never imagined the dryness of this place would seep into my soul, wetting an appetite for the harsh, extreme, stark beauty that exists in a Valley of Death. The road plastered to the earth stretches for miles. The asphalt runs in dips and bumps.

big trip 181

At times the road is completely covered. Weather compels the desert to encroach, making travel difficult or impossible. The desert wants it’s solitude back. It wants to remove the passage that allows travelers to visit.  Earth piles up all around. A larger than life bulldozer pushed and pushed until towers of etched hills formed. Water and wind work to break them down. The earth wants it’s earth back. Back to the valley floor it comes in the most interesting ways.

big trip 169

In this dry place, water is the driving force for change. The texture, colors and depth are a whirlpool of wonder swirling- asking me to stay for days, weeks, months. There is too much to see. Too much to experience. Looking closely, the details are here and there. They are everywhere. Particularly, in the Devil’s Golf Course. In each space, around every corner, there is a whole new world. A world teaming with life found nowhere else.

big trip 183

Artist’s Loop creeps up. The colors are powdery pastels. Mixed with water they will paint the landscape. The loop clearly shows how water can rush in every crack and crevice or wash over everything.

big trip 160

Heat is the core of this place. Temperatures cook in the summer months. Volcanoes played a part in its creation. Craters remain to tell the story.

big trip 152

We stumble upon an unexpected surprise. Although it doesn’t always appear so, water is ever present in the desert. A castle is a fitting symbol in an oasis that provides life for anyone daring enough to travel this landscape.

big trip 153

We long to go in. We will have to wait. Light and warmth diminish quickly in the winter desert. Driving through the dark looking for a campsite is a daunting task. At our last stop, Zabrieski Point, where the sunset is divine we meet a couple who tells us about Tecopa Hotsprings. Tecopa will be our resting place. Camping for the night, we meet another element that drives the desert.





Road Trip- Mt Whitney

Four month road trip. A wild idea born in my imagination during a moment of freedom.

big trip 052

Stars aligned perfectly, providing opportunity for escape. Traveling from coast to coast and back again, a total of 13,000+ miles added to our Ford Ranger.

big trip 074

Mt Whitney. The campground was perfect- empty and free. Not the warmest time of year for camping at the base of a stone monstrosity. Being hardy campers we made due.  The solitude of this area filled me with a sense of longing. One that I search for to this day and occasionally find in odd places. The weather was not cooperative to summit. Through a bit of exploring we found “movieland” in the Alabama Hills.

big trip 102

This is the kind of trip that solidifies a relationship- binding it in communion that never breaks or leads to one partner abandoning the journey to never look back.

big trip 093